Name: Curt Hoksbergen
Location: Frey Cattle Co., Mason, Texas
What is your job description? I’m a cowboy on yearling outfit. My main responsibility is keeping the calves that we buy, alive. That involves a lot of prowling and doctoring. If the cattle are not doing well and a chute is handy I drive them in and use it – it’s a good job for young horses, and I think a person can do a better job of staying ahead of a wreck that way. If there isn’t a chute I’ll rope ’em and tie ’em down. I like to tie my cattle so my horse doesn’t have to hold him while I doctor. It gives him a little rest and a reward for having done his part.
What is ranching in Texas like? Ranching in the Texas hill country is very different from ranching in Wyoming. The ranches are smaller and covered in brush. It’s hard to gather horseback and get all your cattle so we get them cake* broke – which means we blow a siren when we put out cake, and the cattle come to you. I know it doesn’t sound like fun but it’s better than beating the brush and crippling good horses and maybe not even see the cattle.
Some cattle will get spoiled if they aren’t cared for properly. Then you have a real problem, because if you can’t gather them you can’t sell them. Sometimes you can go out and rope ’em and get them out that way but in the brush and rocks – it’s not as easy as it sounds. You can’t rope them if you can’t see them, and some will stand or lie still and let you ride right past them. And if you do find them they have the upper hand because they can duck and dive through that brush and just disappear. I’ve been almost in rope range and cut around a tree to get a little closer just to have the critter vanish.
If we can’t find cattle or hold them we get a helicopter and they find ’em and bring ’em out of the brush for you. Much faster and easier on horses and cowboys. A good pilot can herd cattle while we rope and tie them.
Did you grow up on a ranch? I grew up on an Iowa dairy farm…ranching may have long hours and hard work, but at least is ain’t a dairy!!
What is your favorite part of your job? My favorite part of the job is the challenge of keeping high-risk calves alive and well.
Note: Mr. Hoksbergen and My Cowboy worked on the same ranch in Laramie, WY for a time. Mr. Hoksbergen has since moved to Texas.
*‘Cake’ is a type of concentrated cattle feed – usually in the form of large pellets.